FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2023
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, U.N. rapporteurs released a statement condemning war crimes and sexual violence committed by Hamas, including the brutal murder, rape and sexual mutilation of Israeli women at the Nova music festival during the October 7th massacre. The rapporteurs’ call for Hamas to be held accountable for the October 7th terrorist violence comes after the U.N. has faced criticism for its monthslong silence on Hamas’s war crimes despite the irrefutable evidence.
While the statement from the two U.N. rapporteurs represents an important step in holding Hamas accountable for its war crimes on the international stage, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres has paid scant attention to condemning Hamas for its war crimes relative to his repeated criticisms of Israel – and his shocking statement in October that the Hamas massacre of over 1200 innocent Israelis “did not happen in a vacuum.”
- Alice Jill Edwards, a special rapporteur on torture, and Morris Tidball-Binz, a special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the growing evidence of sexual violence in the day’s wide range of “brutal attacks” was “particularly harrowing,” noting allegations of sexual assault, gang rape, mutilation and gunshots to the genital areas.
- “These acts constitute gross violations of international law, amounting to war crimes which, given the number of victims and the extensive premeditation and planning of the attacks, may also qualify as crimes against humanity,” they said. “There are no circumstances that justify their perpetration.”
- Accounts of sexual violence on Oct. 7 were shared in a presentation at U.N. headquarters in New York in early December. “Silence is complicity,” said Sheryl Sandberg, the former Meta executive, who helped organize the presentation. Hundreds of protesters outside accused the United Nations of holding a double standard on sexual violence, which the U.N. has acknowledged in many other conflicts. Some chanted: “Me too, unless you’re a Jew.”
- Reporters interviewed witnesses who described seeing women raped and killed along a highway, reviewed photographs that showed a woman’s corpse with dozens of nails driven into her thighs and groin, and spoke with volunteer medics and Israeli soldiers who came across at least 24 bodies of women and girls in at least six houses, some mutilated, some tied up, and many naked and alone.